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Research and Education

Three Ponds SNP research in cypress swamp. ~ photo by Neil Pederson
Kentucky’s state nature preserve system offers a wealth of opportunities for research and education. A comprehensive sampling of the state’s natural community types are represented and many contain the best remaining examples of a rare community or species known in the state. The preserves can be considered living museums, presenting a window to the landscapes of Kentucky’s past.

Research topics are as diverse as the preserves themselves and can include investigating specific questions that have arisen as preserve management issues, inventorying plants and animals, population studies, cave mapping, studying water quality and quantity or conducting forest health assessments. There are many benefits to conducting research on a state nature preserve. The dedication law that protects the preserves in perpetuity makes them more attractive to researchers seeking a stable site for long-term study. Funds to support research are available through the Sherri Evans Memorial Fund and the Heritage Land Conservation Fund board. Preserve management staff is available to provide some assistance with project logistics. Contact the nature preserves branch manager or the appropriate regional preserve manager for more information.

Educational opportunities are available on those preserves open to the general public. Teachers and professors are encouraged to take advantage of these “outdoor classrooms” for instructional use in any discipline. With a little imagination, subjects such as art, music, math and social studies as well as biology can be enhanced in a natural setting. While no curricula have been developed specifically for use at the majority of the preserves, the Kentucky Environmental Education Council and the Jefferson County Public School System have examples and sources of materials for use on-site.